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Estonia to provide €80,000 funding for diaspora cultural associations

Children of the Estonian diaspora celebrating Estonian Independence Day in Toronto. February 2017.
Children of the Estonian diaspora celebrating Estonian Independence Day in Toronto. February 2017. Source: (Peeter Põldre)

A total of 87 applications were submitted to project competitions organized by Estonia 100 and the Estonian government's Compatriots' Programme, of which 28 will receive support this year.

According to a Government Office press release, nine of the projects selected are dedicated specifically to Estonia's upcoming centenary celebrations, while the other 19 will support Estonian communities abroad in organizing cultural and educational projects or participate in cultural events in Estonia.

The amount of support allocated to Estonian cultural associations abroad has doubled compared to recent years, with the total budget now reaching €80,000, due to ongoing preparations for Estonia's centenary in 2018 and the desire to organize grand celebrations to mark the anniversary both in Estonia and in Estonian communities abroad.

Kristina Pirgop, head of partnership relations at the Integration and Migration Foundation "Our People" (MISA), said that this funding will help Estonians living abroad preserve Estonian culture. "We want for there to continue to be events that help preserve the Estonian culture and language beyond our borders, and for cultural associations and creative people to forge even closer ties in anticipation of Estonia 100," she said. "This year, we'll also be supporting the participation of a number of Estonian groups from abroad in the Youth Song and Dance Festival this summer."

Estonia 100 abroad

Heilika Pikkov, manager of the International Programme for Estonia 100 and Estonia's Presidency of the Council of the EU, noted that she was pleased that great proposals for ways to celebrate the country's centenary were sent by so many Estonian communities around the world.

"Support has been allocated both to established projects such as the EstDocs Film Festival in Canada, which is planning a special program, as well as completely new projects," said Pikkov. "One example is 'Swing Across the Sea in Pirkanmaa,' which will involve Estonian children and youth living Finland, taking participants back to 1918 and the 1920s through dance, film and games. The project will culminate in an Estonia 100 costume party that will be true to period."

Estonians around the world linked by language, culture, traditions

Anne-Ly Reimaa, a Cultural Diversity Department adviser at the Ministry of Culture, said that Estonians living all over the world are linked by the Estonian language, culture and history as well as by shared traditions and values. "Working together toward common goals expands and recognizes the importance of being Estonian abroad, both for Estonians living here and Estonians living somewhere else," she said. "It's wonderful to know that so many plans will come to life with the support of the state."

Winning applicants include Toronto's annual EstDocs Film Festival, the Helsingin Estin Laululapset song studio in Finland, the London Estonian Society, the Rakvere Theatre Foundation, the Association of Estonians in Sweden, the Estival Association in Sweden, the Estonian Archive in Australia as well as the Norweian-Estonian Association.

Successful applicants of this year's Compatriots' Programme project competition include the Foundation for Estonian Arts and Letters in the U.S., the San Francisco Estonian Society, the Estonian Community in Lithuania, the Estonian League of the West Coast, Inc., the Estonian Cultural Society in Germany, the Connecticut Estonian School, the Washington Estonian Society, the "Kaja" Mixed Choir in St. Petersburg, the Estonian Folk Dance and Folk Music Associations, the St. Petersburg Estonian Society, the Estonian Cultural Association in Berlin, the St. John's Church in St. Petersburg Fund, the Kotkajärve "Forest University," the Estonian Studies Centre, the Luxembourg Estonian Society, the London Estonian Society, the Toronto Estonian School Choir, the Miksteater touring theater as well as the Estonian House in the Netherlands.

The project competitions for this year's rounds of funding were organized by the Government Office, the Ministry of Culture, the Council of the Compatriots' Program and MISA.

Applications were evaluated by representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Government Office as well as MISA.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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